Antlers’ Kattie Bailey – Player Spotlight Presented by Pine Cellular

By Nick Hampton

After a down season in 2018, the Lady Bearcats bring in a somewhat-new coach to try and re-establish the playoff ability they possessed in 2016 and 2017 when they went deep in the regionals, and possibly push them to the next level in 2019.

Players like sophomore Kattie Bailey are leading the charge for Antlers, which is off to a great start this season. Chris Gibbs, who coached at Rattan for 25 years, came to Antlers last year and coached at the junior high level before moving to the high school this season. And given the talent he has seen in a quarter century of coaching, Gibbs has some high praise for his young pitcher.

“She works at being better harder than anyone I’ve ever seen,” said the veteran coach. “Her dad is a big part of that as she throws with him every day we aren’t playing. I think she’ll just get better and better. I really admire her work ethic.”

For Kattie, it was about tagging along as her older sister played that really got her started and she found a role model for her pitching early in her career.

“I liked to watch Jennie Finch (former collegiate All-American at Arizona and Olympic softball player) when she was playing. She just had a certain confidence in the circle that I admired.”

Over the summer, Kattie went over and above to improve her pitch selection.

“I had a pretty good fastball and change-up but I worked with an old pitching coach this past summer to learn a curve, rise ball and backhand change,” said Bailey who participates in FFA and shows livestock in her spare time.

Getting back to winning softball is something both the coach and player feel is certainly in the cards this season even though the Lady Bearcats are young and made up mostly of underclassmen.

“Getting used to a new coach was a little tough at first,” said Bailey. “He was tough on us but I think it’s paying off and we’re already way ahead of where we were last year.”

And Gibbs is seeing signs early in the season that some attitudes have changed.

“Just recently we played Holdenville and fell behind 6-1 early. Last year that team had a tendency to quit in that situation, but this year the girls came back and won that game in extra innings, so I feel good about the direction we’re heading,” said Gibbs.